Neighbors show surprise, ambivalence to drug busts

Several tabby and black -and-white cats scurried from doorstep to doorstep in Cathy Wurster's Carson City neighborhood Wednesday.

Small, identical green houses sit along a dirt road off Long Street, Wurster's distinguishable by the number 10 and the old bottles sitting in a window.

It's a neighborhood where neighbors said they watch out for one another.

It was her neighbor, Sandra Hance, who was called to take care of Wurster's three daughters when police arrived Wednesday morning and arrested the unemployed 41-year-old on charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamines.

One of the girls is staying with Hance, the other two were taken to their grandmother's house, she said.

Hance said she shocked. She has known Wurster for three years and, "I don't think she would do that type of thing."

"Cathy, of all people," Hance said. "I don't know what the heck they're thinking. I find it all so incredible. There were 15 officers in there and one woman. It wasn't like she was a major criminal."

Neighbors Rita Gutierrez and John Armenta said they, too, were surprised by the arrest.

"She looks like a nice person," Gutierrez said.

"Everybody knows everybody, everyone takes care of everyone else. That's how it goes on here," Armenta added. "I saw a couple of cars come in, but I never thought about that."

Hance said after living in the neighborhood for 10 years, she's seen some suspicious things but never in association with Wurster.

"She's never had any major traffic," Hance said. "I've never noticed anything suspicious. She's basically a good person who doesn't go out of her way to be a problem."

A few miles away on Poole Way, a brown puppy ran happily around a narcotics officer, playing on the pink trailer's stairs and under the yellow crime tape isolating the trailer from the road.

One woman woke to see yellow crime tape around neighbor's house and "thought at first it was a murder."

"I called my neighbor and she said it was a drug bust," she said. "It's not unusual to have lights flashing over there. There always seems to be the same type of renters there. Someone must know more than I do. I do my dishes late at night, and I always see cars coming in and out, but they haven't been that noisy."

Russell Robinson, 48, and Teddy Peterson, 49, were arrested at the Poole Way residence.

Another neighbor said she had seen a "trailer last night over there bringing stuff in and out.

"I keep to myself mostly. I didn't think much of it," she said.

At the home of Kenneth Chandler, 50, the suspected ringleader of the group, neighbors who asked not to be identified said everyone knew what went on at the Gardner Lane house. The private dirt road cuts off Nye Lane, and there is no outlet. Constant traffic to 2789 Gardner Lane was the neighbors' clue that something was going on.

"To me, it was just the drug house got busted," one neighbor said. "There's traffic here at all hours of the day and night. I don't like the traffic, but we don't want to run and tell. This is Carson City, it's a small town. It was only a matter of time before it happened."

Neighbors call Chandler "Mooch," and some said they'd know him for years. Four people were arrested at the Gardner Lane residence. However, Chandler was arrested in Montana. One neighbor said he could sometimes smell funny odors coming from the house, but "as long as they didn't bother us, why waste our time?"

"Everybody talked about it," another neighbor said. "One guy said, 'You watch, they're going to come down on them.' We had no proof of what was going on. If I had seen them growing marijuana plants, it would have been one thing. It's just with all the traffic, come on, what else could it be?"

While the neighbors said they knew the people in the Gardner Lane house manufactured and sold drugs, they never thought to turn them in.

"We just decided they didn't bother us, we didn't bother them," one neighbor said.

"It's adults dealing to adults," a neighbor said. "If it would have been children, that would be different."

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